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Antique Pocket Watch Keys

In Pocket Watches > Show & Tell and Tools and Hardware > Keys > Show & Tell.
Popular items33 of 172219 1767 English Verge Fusee with Shagreen CaseOriginal 1930's Embossed "ODIN" 5 cent Cigar Tin Sign
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Posted 4 years ago


(28 items)

Pocket watches did not always wind and set at the pendant (winding crown or stem). A lot of people are surprised to learn that a key was used at one time. There were many types of keys from fancy ones to advertising ones and the wealthy sported gold ones. There were also ratchet type keys to make winding easier. Key sizes varied since they had to fit the different size arbors on the watch. They were usually around a inch and a half in length and were attached to the pocket watch chain or chatelaine.

Here is some additional information from Wikipedia:
The very first pocket watches, since their creation in the 16th century, up until the third quarter of the 19th century, had key-wind and key-set movements. A watch key was necessary to wind the watch and to set the time. This was usually done by opening the caseback and putting the key over the winding-arbor (which was set over the watch's winding-wheel, to wind the mainspring) or by putting the key onto the setting-arbor, which was connected with the minute-wheel and turned the hands. Some watches of this period had the setting-arbor at the front of the watch, so that removing the crystal and bezel was necessary to set the time.

Second photo is an English verge fusee with a steel chain and key for winding and setting.

I do use these keys to wind my antique pocket watches. I hope you find this post of some interest, thanks for looking.


  1. kerry10456 kerry10456, 4 years ago
    VERY neat array of keys, thanks for sharing these.
  2. Aimathena Aimathena, 4 years ago
    There is just something really appealing about Antique keys
  3. inky inky, 4 years ago
    They are beautiful a little work of art!...:-)
  4. Tutzie Tutzie, 4 years ago
    I'd love to put these charming keys in a little antiquey shadow box type frame, maybe arranged on a velvet background. They are so pretty!
  5. SEAN68 SEAN68, 4 years ago
    These are stunning pops !!!! these would look great framed and matted. to hang on a wall.
  6. archeng59, 4 years ago
    cool. I have probably seen these in antique stores and had no idea what they were.
  7. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 4 years ago
    I love all old keys. They are really great swap items. You can swap them for way more than their actual value. Fun collectibles to say the least. Thanks for sharing them. BUY KEYS
  8. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 4 years ago
    So beautiful...
  9. AzTom AzTom, 4 years ago
    These are too cool!
    I also love old keys and have several hundred but never thought about watches. I know I have some with the small square tapered end and some with a square hole in them. I'll have to check them out.
  10. kerry10456 kerry10456, 4 years ago
    Ken, at looking again at these, I thought I might post an early key wound pocket watch for others to see just where these are used. Here's the posting:
  11. pw-collector pw-collector, 4 years ago
    Ken, I love your collection of watch keys & your fine explanation of their use.
    I've collected a few and will post them if you don't mind.
  12. Roycroftbooksfromme1 Roycroftbooksfromme1, 4 years ago
    I just love old keys ya just never know what they go to .....unless there smart like u pops.. ;-)))) .I saw you check all my crap, I posted.... thanks and have a great Easter ...
  13. pops52 pops52, 1 year ago
    Thank you all very much!
  14. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 1 year ago
    Hi pops, these are great keys! I'm pretty sure that before I came onto this site that I was even aware keys were made for pocket watches... I always just admired the watches from afar.
  15. Johnsmith Johnsmith, 2 months ago
    Very nice

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